The Gospel reading sets the theme of the day. When a congregation uses the Three-Year Lectionary (as opposed to the historic One-Year), each year follows a particular evangelist. Year A uses Matthew, B follows Mark, and C uses Luke. John supplements the shorter Gospel of Mark and is used throughout the other years as well.
The Gospel lesson is the climax of the Service of the Word, occupying a place of honor because it contains the words and deeds of our Lord. Today we acknowledge this by standing while it’s read and by the bracketing sentences: “Glory to You, O Lord” and “Praise to You, O Christ.” At different times during the Church year and in different parishes, additional ceremonies, such as processions, candles, and incense, may also be used to heighten the importance of the Gospel lesson.
In ancient times it was read by a clergyman from the north ambo (pulpit) and then later from the north side of the altar.